At the end of his latest blog entry for the Detroit News, Tom Gage wonders if the Tigers' payroll for 2010 will allow them to re-sign shortstop Adam Everett:
One more thing: No, I'm not even sure the Tigers will be able to keep Adam Everett. They'll try, and he'll be willing to return, but other teams will be looking for a bargain shortstop as well.
I said back in June that I believed the Tigers would bring back Everett next season, if for no other reason than they didn't have anyone ready to take over at that position. Detroit doesn't believe Ramon Santiago is a full-time shortstop. Cale Iorg isn't ready (especially with the bat). And though Brent Dlugach hit well this season in Toledo (.294/.349/.446), earning a September call-up, he's probably a fringe prospect at best.
Plus, if you look at the free agent list of shortstops, it doesn't include many standouts. (Tigers Tracks tried to come up with an alternative to Everett, but I don't know if it was all that convincing.) There are a couple names that would provide a definite upgrade on offense (Orlando Cabrera, for example), but would that be worth losing the defense that Everett brings?
For all of his offensive faults (a .238/.288/.325 average), Everett gave the Tigers exactly the defense they wanted and expected when they signed him last December. And he was good with the glove this season. Going by UZR, Everett was still one of the best defensive shortstops in the league, despite some untimely errors (especially early in the year).
But how much will Everett cost next season? The $1 million contract they signed him for last year was an injury discount, as Everett was recovering from an injured shoulder that restricted him to 48 games in 2008. (There was also probably something of a hometown discount, with much of his wife's family in the area.) However, Everett's now made it through a full season healthy, a few teams have a shortstop opening (Red Sox, Blue Jays, Twins, and Astros come to mind), and there seems to be a growing emphasis on defense over offense throughout baseball.
Do you expect Everett to be back with the Tigers next season? (Most likely in another time-share arrangement with Santiago?) How high should Detroit be willing to go to keep him? And if you'd prefer they look for another shortstop, what direction would you like to see them take?